Between Emilia and Tuscany, between the lands of agreed balsamic and marvelous engines to the olive trees of Lucca, the beaches of Viareggio, the shipyard where they have been restoring the Portola, the beautiful wooden boat in which Marilyn Monroe teaches Tony Curtis how to kiss, Whit skirts and being crazy, a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,500 meters, under freezing rain, gusts of freezing wind, an infinite descent, fear and suffering, teaches and reminds cyclists the truth of their trade, ancient cycling, pain that demoralizes. It is the Passo delle Radici, the port of roots. The bad weather, the curves of the descent, the pirate’s wall in a sharp curve that Barta and Vine crash into, more falls, crazy things, tearing the peloton to pieces, small groups of survivors stopping to change clothes, their shoes soaked, the gloves that no longer shelter, that only freeze.
In front of everyone, three on the run, three of those who only escape thinking of winning. They are the red-haired Friulian De Marchi, the Canadian Derek Gee, who wants to be like Hesjedal, the compatriot who embittered Purito 11 years ago, and the Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen, and his mustache so pale seems white at the finish line after his clear victory He was the fastest sprinter hard man who has already won stages in the Vuelta, the Tour and the Giro, and only 105, including him, have done so in history–, and the traces of the hardness of the stage, of the physical and mental effort made to maintain a advantage of a minute in the last 20 kilometers, the wrinkles on his face make him look like an old man, a wise old man who has visited the radical roots of cycling and has returned to a present in which pink was no longer worn Remco Evenepoel , already at home in Belgium passing the covid that forced him to leave on Sunday, but the old Welshman Geraint Thomas, who will turn 37 on Thursday the 25th, three days before the Giro arrives in Rome.
And if he arrives in pink, and he could do it perfectly –Thomas, Chris Froome’s faithful assistant in his years of brilliance, he already won the 2018 Tour and was third in 2022, he would be the oldest to do so. The record is still held by the Tuscan Fiorenzo Magni, who won his third Giro at the age of 34, in 1955, and since then his name has been synonymous with old age.
The old cyclists from nothing ago, Moser, Saronni, Italian glories who falsify their past to the taste of the blowing wind, glories from all over the world nostalgic for a past that did not exist, point their fingers at Evenepoel. He has not withdrawn, he has fled, they say, scared as one who wants to call himself a champion should never be, because he knew, just as he was, that he would never win the Giro, and he does not accept not being the star, as if Evenepoel had invented the virus, or as if after having won the time trial at more than 50 per hour with only nine hundredths of an advantage over Thomas, the sick face, the lifeless eyes, the decay of his body, were no more a mask.
How different, how far from Eddy Merckx, whom he says he wants to match (the Cannibal, the last Belgian to abandon the Giro de rosa, was expelled from the race after testing positive after the 16th stage of the Giro ’69), which is far from Magni himself, who climbed Monte Bondone with a broken clavicle pulling the handlebars with his mouth through a tubular that he bit with his teeth. Gray photo captions. How different Evenepoel, the child of the year 2000, to them, to Cort Nielsen, to De Marchi, to Caruso, to those who attack by going down and fall, to those who reach 10 minutes, like Vine, who was ninth overall, or to more than 20, like Barta, the best Movistar until yesterday, or like Fernando Gaviria, also fallen and frozen, or like Barguil, who falls down after being run over by a team car and can barely grip the handlebars, or those who they retire with empty guts after trying to continue, like the Russian Aleksandr Vlasov, another who thought he could win the Giro. Four who left Emilia did not reach Tuscany, sick, exhausted, wounded; nine more did not even come out, eight more Evenepoel. The Giro was started by 176. There are 150 left in the race. The great stages have not yet arrived. Among the first three, Thomas, his partner in Ineos Tao Geoghegan (winner of the Giro 20, the year of the pandemic) and Primoz Roglic (winner of three Vueltas, lover of ambushes), there are only five seconds.
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